Here are our top breakout players for each Big Ten team in 2012. As you can tell, I took the Legends Division while Adam Kramer took care of the Leaders.
It wasn't my intention to spend five of the six picks for the Legends on defensive players; I'm obviously high on the Big Ten's defense this season, but that optimism was derived more from the upper levels of talent than the breakout players that don't have great resumes as yet.
But the truth of it is that, for the most part, there isn't a ton of offensive talent waiting in the pipelines of the Legends Division. You could say Devin Gardner is a breakout wide receiver for Michigan, but he hasn't even been officially moved to the position yet, and who would we say for Nebraska? The starting QB, RB and TE are all returning starters with all-conference hype, and the only wideout with "breakout" potential is Jamal Turner, and he still can't crack the starting lineup.
At the very least, though, there's enough All-American-level talent on Big Ten defenses that the inevitable 16-13 games this season will be exhibitions of stellar defense and not (only) offensive ineptitude. So, there will be enough defensive plays that are genuinely enjoyable to watch that you won't wonder who replaced your Big Ten with the ACC.
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